Articles and Tips: article
01 May 1999
The Novell SuperLab is a multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art testing facility designed to replicate large-scale, real-world production environments. The SuperLab consists of more than 1700 computers, with the ability to configure complex topologies using various LAN and WAN technologies. This article discusses the SuperLab challenge along with technologies and resources.
The Novell SuperLab is a multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art testing facility designed to replicate large-scale, real-world production environments. The SuperLab consists of more than 1700 computers, with the ability to configure complex topologies using various LAN and WAN technologies. The scale and flexibility offered by the SuperLab allows for a wide range of testing that normally would not be possible in a production or typical lab environment.
Novell's SuperLab Challenge is unique because it is the only facility in the world that can provide real-world testing scenarios of this magnitude. It's the only lab that can replicate a fully configured network of more than 1,000 users by automating its businesses processes and measuring the resulting end-to-end performance demands. In fact, the SuperLab has 1,700 workstations more than three times the number of other labs considered to be state-of-the-art network-testing facilities.
The NetWare 5 SuperLab Challenge is the opportunity for Novell's DeveloperNet Strategic-level partners to test their servers in a realistic network environment utilizing the new NetWare 5 platform and other Novell products. This event is free of charge to DeveloperNet Strategic-level partners. However, if the number of participating DeveloperNet Strategic-level partners doesn't fill the available time slots, participation in the event is opened to other server manufacturers.
The NetWare 5 SuperLab Challenge provides an ideal opportunity to work closely with other industry leaders to create a powerful demonstration of real-world connectivity solutions for the global marketplace. What's more, surviving Novell's NetWare 5 SuperLab Challenge offers your potential customers valuable, tangible proof that tested hardware and software products operating in specified configurations live up to and in some cases exceed their published performance benchmarks.
Each vendor is provided an five hour slot of activity, during which time the server is monitored for maintained connections, disk activity and processor utilization. A server successfully completes the test when it maintains at least 1000 connections for the eight hour period. After the event, participants will be provided with a detailed report on the performance of their server, which offers a competitive advantage, not only for participating vendors, but for network managers who want to see how well a particular server handles server configurations that are similar or identical to those being considered prior to actually making the investment.
The SuperLab's highly-configurable environment of over 1,000 workstations performing Web access, electronic mail, file management and application support subjects participating servers to a full day's worth of torture testing the limits of some of the most reliable high-performance servers in the world, as well as network software from Novell and other industry partners. No number of systems would be adequate for large-scale testing without the ability to network them in any desired configuration. The Novell SuperLab has the infrastructure and the automation to set up even the most complex LAN and WAN environments.
All participating servers are set up and configured in the SuperLab by the Novell SES Engineer working with the Strategic-level partner. Those server manufacturers who are not currently Strategic-level DeveloperNet partners will be responsible for sending a representative to Novell's SuperLab facility to assist with the setup and configuration, as well as attending while their server is being tested. All participating servers will be set up with identical configurations as follows (subject to change):
NetWare 5 [emphasis on Novell Directory Services (NDS) and Novell Storage Services (NSS)]
Web Server with BorderManager Fast Cache
Corel WordPerfect Suite 8
Each server participating in the NetWare 5 SuperLab Challenge is required to have, as a minimum, the following hardware:
8GB Hard drive space
4 PCI 100MB Network cards
NetWare 5 Drivers for the LAN Adapters
The NetWare 5 SuperLab Challenge was held in August 1998, and again in October 1998. The Novell SuperLab would like to congratulate the following server vendors whose servers passed this comprehensive NetWare 5 test.
Gateway ALR 9000
Gateway ALR 8200
IBM Netfinity 5500
IBM PC Server 325
Siemens Nixdorf Primergy 460
Compaq ProLiant 7000
Fujitsu GranPower 5000 Model 670
NEC Computer Systems Express 5800 LS2400
Intel Corporation AD450NX MP Server
Compaq ProLiant 1850R
Compaq ProLiant 1600
Hewlett Packard NetServer LH3
Hewlett Packard NetServer LC3
The July, 1997 SuperLab Challenge included 7 servers from 7 leading server vendors, each configured with either dual or quad Pentium Pro processors with 256MB RAM, 8GB hard-drive space and four 100MB LAN cards. Each tested system included a Digi serial port card with 8 serial lines and a single 8 modem pool, provided by 3Com/U.S. Robotics, for servicing fax requests through Cheyenne's FAXserve, as well as a WAN link for remote connectivity. In addition, each server ran intraNetWare (including Novell Web Server 3.1) and a master partition of an NDS tree, plus a GroupWise 5.1 post office, a domain controller, and Cheyenne's InocuLAN for IntranetWare. Oracle databases and Corel's WordPerfect Suite 8 tested application server capabilities.
For this edition of Novell's SuperLab Challenge, approximately 1,100 workstations were configured to replicate the computing activities of a typical large-scale business setting, including E-mail, Web access, database services, word processing and file I/O. Everything from 386s running Windows 3.1 to Pentium Pros running Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and over 50 Pentium IIs were included in test configurations a formidable task, but a very achievable one. Then we turned up the heat and applied the peak- performance demands of an enterprise network for 8 continuous hours. Of 7 servers tested, five survived the pressure and scrutiny of Novell's SuperLab. Two didn't.
After each server test was finished, each vendor was provided a report of their product's performance. Test results were developed into reports with tools from BGS Systems to give participants a comprehensive look at their product's test results, along with the reporting methods and tools used in measuring performance. Originally developed for NetWare testing, BGS customized their reporting tools specifically for SuperLab, allowing us to quickly create accurate, individualized reports. Most participating vendors are publishing their test reports on their web sites, and others are providing the results as they're requested by potential customers.
Surviving Novell's SuperLab Challenge offers vendors and their customers valuable proof that tested hardware and software products operating in specified configurations live up to and in some cases exceed their published performance benchmarks. It also offers a competitive advantage, not only for participating vendors, but for network managers who want to see how well a particular server handles configurations that are similar or identical to those they're considering using.
Servers that successfully completed the July, 1997 Novell SuperLab Challenge included:
6000 DELL 6100
Mitsubishi Apricot FT 4200
SuperLab Technologies and Resources
The SuperLab has the hardware, infrastructure, and know-how to quickly and efficiently set up even the most demanding test environment. Customized automation tools and performance-testing tools provide the means to ensure timely and meaningful test results.
The SuperLab has over 1700 computers, with a wide variety of systems and configurations available. Systems range from high-end machines ideal for server duty, to less powerful computers best suited for client workstations. All of the SuperLab computers can be networked in virtually any configuration.
No number of systems would be adequate for large-scale testing without the ability to network them together in the desired configuration. The SuperLab has the infrastructure in place to set up even the most complex of both LAN and WAN environments.
The SuperLab can configure networks using a variety of physical topologies, including 10mb and 100mb Ethernet, FDDI, CDDI, and Token Ring. Any number of separate networks and internetworks can be created using Secure Virtual LAN technology, which allows virtual networks to be created on the fly without time-consuming and error-prone recabling. Virtual LAN technology allows almost any LAN topology to be set up quickly and accurately, while providing flexibility for necessary changes during testing.
Complex Wide-Area Networks can also be configured in the SuperLab to further match real-world operating environments. The SuperLab has routers that can be configured for various types of WAN connections including:
Synchronous and Asynchronous PPP
WAN simulators are used to simulate real-world line characteristics such as speed, latency, and multi-level errors. In addition, a satellite link, frame relay cloud, and a variety of telecom equipment is also available.
Installation and custom configuration of software on a large number of machines is normally a very time consuming task. The SuperLab routinely conducts tests that may require several hundred machines, each with different operating systems, network addresses, and other unique requirements. Manual setup and configuration of such an environment is often impossible given usual time and resource constraints.
In order to accommodate this, the SuperLab uses several advanced automation tools to dramatically reduce the setup time for large-scale test scenarios. Many of these tools have been written in-house specifically to meet the unique needs of rapid test setup for large, complex environments. As technology changes, the SuperLab is constantly developing and evaluating new automation tools to streamline the setup procedure.
For more information, see the Web site http://www.developer.novell.com/devres/slab/
To schedule lab facilities or obtain more information contact Cami Christensen at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Originally published in Novell AppNotes
The origin of this information may be internal or external to Novell. While Novell makes all reasonable efforts to verify this information, Novell does not make explicit or implied claims to its validity.